In the most basic sense, guitar tablature (or tab) refers to an alternate method of reading music. Standard sheet music contains the notes of a song written out on five horizontal lines, called a score. This type of notation is universal, whether one is playing guitar, piano or anything else, the notes remain the same. One needs to know their instrument very well to be able to translate the written notations into music. This can be very frustrating for the beginner, as it takes real dedication to get to this point. With a song written out in tab form, a favorite lick can be learned in minutes.
To briefly describe tab, it is something of a diagram of your guitar neck, and where each note is to be plucked. Tab uses six lines to a bar of music, rather than the standard five. Each line corresponds to the six guitar strings. Replacing the notes are simple numbers, which represent the fret the string is to be played at. In this manner, a song like “Money” by Pink Floyd is completely drawn out, all one needs to do is play the string at the bar indicated, and voila – they are suddenly David Gilmour.
Obviously there are drawbacks to this method; you are not really learning how to read music. I have seen a great many guitar students just give up after a while though, because they felt they were making no progress. For them, learning even just a favorite riff in this manner can be a huge confidence-builder. Sure it is a shortcut, but one that often leads to a renewed incentive to continue with the harder work.
The Alfred Music Publishing company have just issued Pink Floyd: Guitar Tab Anthology. In it they feature 13 Pink Floyd songs, in both standard sheet music format and guitar tab. Pink Floyd are an interesting band to have chosen for a project like this. For one thing, their songs are generally not what one would consider easy to play – and many of them are quite long as well.
Most of the Floyd tunes are from their classic ’70s albums Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall. There are two included from the Syd Barrett days also, “Arnold Layne,” and “See Emily Play.” The Barrett songs are a little easier, although he was a brilliant mess – his are nowhere near as complex as those of Roger Waters and David Gilmour.
Even for someone who can read music, learning “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part V)” is a little daunting. The song runs 19 pages here. The intangible element of guitar tab came to my rescue here. After learning the indelible first six bars of the composition, I was ready to really immerse myself in the whole thing.
Along with their recent Led Zeppelin: Easy Guitar Anthology, the Alfred publishers have come up with a very useful tool – both for the new player, and for those who have been at it for a while. If there is a Pink Floyd fan in your life who may also be just starting out on guitar, the Anthology would be an ideal gift.
After all, who wouldn’t want to learn “Another Brick In The Wall (Part II).” “We don’t need no education. …”